504 eligibility questions

Posted on: Thu, 02/23/2006 - 11:26am
Beldin's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/28/2006 - 09:00

Hello-

I have a few questions regarding obtaining 504 status. Long story short we started K this year without one, and now we really think we need one before starting first grade in the fall. We know our school has never done a 504 for allergies so we are trying to really have all our ducks in row.

I am learning a tremendous amount from all of you and can't thank you enough. Here are my questions:

1. When we make our written request for 504 in writing what is the school's obligation at that point? Are they required to hold an eligibility meeting?

2. Should we include our allergist's letter along with our request for the 504 eligibility meeting? Or should this be saved for the actual meeting?

3. What documentation should we include along with our request? Any? Since the idea of an allergy kid needing a 504 in a new concept to them would documentation showing that allergies qualify be something I should include with the request?

Any help and advice you can give is greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

Posted on: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 3:06am
Corvallis Mom's picture
Offline
Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

Well, I'll reply, though any advice I can give I owe to careful observation of MomCat and GailW... and a huge debt to RhondaRS.
(You could probably find all the answers to your questions but it may take a while to sort through years of threads here...)
Quote:Originally posted by Beldin:
[b]
1. When we make our written request for 504 in writing what is the school's obligation at that point? Are they required to hold an eligibility meeting?
[i]Yes. You might also request that they provide you with documentation about their 504 process. They have a written protocol that they are obligated to follow, but the details can vary by school district.[/i]
2. Should we include our allergist's letter along with our request for the 504 eligibility meeting? Or should this be saved for the actual meeting?
[i]I'd save it for the meeting... or at least until a meeting is scheduled. Though you can let them know you have one. That lets them know you are serious.[/i]
3. What documentation should we include along with our request? Any? Since the idea of an allergy kid needing a 504 in a new concept to them would documentation showing that allergies qualify be something I should include with the request?
[i] Time to go data mining at AAFA and OCR's websites. Print PRIMARY SOURCES which come from "official" websites. Allergy is specifically mentioned in several documents.[/i]
[/b]
If you don't already have a good allergist's letter, get one in the works now. You don't want that kind of surprise on the eve of your eligibility meeting!
My personal feeling is that the life activity that your allergist should state is affected is "caring for one's self" to the same degree that other non-disabled children are capable. The reason is that it is very difficult to argue that this isn't true, and it is true whether or not your child is actively having a reaction.
Hope this is helpful.
[img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
If I made any mistakes, I'm sure someone with more expertise will help you out!
-Corvallis Mom (who is clearly "typing challenged"....*sigh*)
[This message has been edited by Corvallis Mom (edited February 24, 2006).]

Posted on: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 5:43am
Nutternomore's picture
Offline
Joined: 08/02/2002 - 09:00

From a fellow Californian...
[url="http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum7/HTML/001705.html"]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum7/HTML/001705.html[/url]

Posted on: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 5:59am
Momcat's picture
Offline
Joined: 03/15/2005 - 09:00

Here is a link to some recent advice I gave on this topic:
[url="http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum7/HTML/002213.html"]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum7/HTML/002213.html[/url]
I'm not sure if the school is legally required to evaluate on the parent's request. However, I think they would be on pretty shaky ground in your case since your child has a medically diagnosed, chronic, life-threatening health condition. Once they have been notified of that, they should be *offering* you an evaluation. Obviously, they haven't done that.
When you formally request the evaluation, explain in your letter that your child has a life-threatening allergy to peanuts and that this condition is recognized by OCR as a hidden disability. You should state that your child's major life-activities of breathing, normal cardiovascular function and caring for himself are substantially limited by his allergy. You could include supporting documentation with the letter, but I don't think that is necessary. You will be able to explain your reasoning and back it up with evidence (doctor's letter, OCR documentation, etc.) at the evaluation. Your letter does not need to contain all the details of your argument; just that you are formally requesting an evaluation and the grounds on which you are making that request. The law states:
"(a) Preplacement evaluation. A recipient that operates a public elementary or secondary education program or activity shall conduct an evaluation in accordance with the requirements of paragraph (b) of this section of any person who, because of handicap, needs or is believed to need special education or related services before taking any action with respect to the initial placement of the person in regular or special education and any subsequent significant change in placement."
So you need to state the grounds on which you base your belief that your child is disabled and requires "related services".
Cathy
[This message has been edited by Momcat (edited February 24, 2006).]

Posted on: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 1:49pm
Ohio's picture
Offline
Joined: 05/23/2005 - 09:00

#1
Take a look at this document:
The Civil Rights of Students with Hidden Disabilities Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
[url="http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/hq5269.html"]http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/hq5269.html[/url]
It has a lot of helpful information, and specifically states you have a right to request a 504 eligibility meeting, but there is no guarantee the school will honor that request. But the school is asking for (at least) a 504 violation if they refuse a 504 evaluation. This can also prompt a hearing or lawsuit. This is supported by OCR cases referenced below.
Source: [url="http://www.504idea.org/evaluation.html"]http://www.504idea.org/evaluation.html[/url]
Question 9: If a parent referral for 504 evaluation is refused by the public school, does the parent have any recourse?
Yes. The refusal to evaluate triggers the parents' rights to (1) request a 504 hearing before an independent hearing officer or (2) file suit in state or federal court or (3) file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights.
While there is no right to an evaluation on parent demand under Section 504, Letter to Mentink, 19 IDELR 1127 (OCR 1993), districts should carefully consider the refusal to provide an evaluation. If the district believes that the child is not eligible (for example, the child is already receiving educational benefit) providing a 504 evaluation and making that determination properly through a 504 Committee makes the decision virtually bulletproof against an OCR complaint. Remember, since OCR looks at procedural compliance issues, as long as the 504 Committee was properly constituted and asked the right questions based on proper evaluation data, the Committee's decision that the child was not eligible will not be disturbed by OCR. The parent's disagreement with the eligibility decision will not be reviewed by OCR, because that type of complaint is the territory of the independent hearing officer. See for example, Virginia Beach City (VA) Public Schools, 26 IDELR 27 (OCR 1996); Temple (TX) ISD, 25 IDELR 252 (OCR 1996).

Posted on: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 3:06am
Corvallis Mom's picture
Offline
Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

Well, I'll reply, though any advice I can give I owe to careful observation of MomCat and GailW... and a huge debt to RhondaRS.
(You could probably find all the answers to your questions but it may take a while to sort through years of threads here...)
Quote:Originally posted by Beldin:
[b]
1. When we make our written request for 504 in writing what is the school's obligation at that point? Are they required to hold an eligibility meeting?
[i]Yes. You might also request that they provide you with documentation about their 504 process. They have a written protocol that they are obligated to follow, but the details can vary by school district.[/i]
2. Should we include our allergist's letter along with our request for the 504 eligibility meeting? Or should this be saved for the actual meeting?
[i]I'd save it for the meeting... or at least until a meeting is scheduled. Though you can let them know you have one. That lets them know you are serious.[/i]
3. What documentation should we include along with our request? Any? Since the idea of an allergy kid needing a 504 in a new concept to them would documentation showing that allergies qualify be something I should include with the request?
[i] Time to go data mining at AAFA and OCR's websites. Print PRIMARY SOURCES which come from "official" websites. Allergy is specifically mentioned in several documents.[/i]
[/b]
If you don't already have a good allergist's letter, get one in the works now. You don't want that kind of surprise on the eve of your eligibility meeting!
My personal feeling is that the life activity that your allergist should state is affected is "caring for one's self" to the same degree that other non-disabled children are capable. The reason is that it is very difficult to argue that this isn't true, and it is true whether or not your child is actively having a reaction.
Hope this is helpful.
[img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
If I made any mistakes, I'm sure someone with more expertise will help you out!
-Corvallis Mom (who is clearly "typing challenged"....*sigh*)
[This message has been edited by Corvallis Mom (edited February 24, 2006).]

Posted on: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 5:43am
Nutternomore's picture
Offline
Joined: 08/02/2002 - 09:00

From a fellow Californian...
[url="http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum7/HTML/001705.html"]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum7/HTML/001705.html[/url]

Posted on: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 5:59am
Momcat's picture
Offline
Joined: 03/15/2005 - 09:00

Here is a link to some recent advice I gave on this topic:
[url="http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum7/HTML/002213.html"]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum7/HTML/002213.html[/url]
I'm not sure if the school is legally required to evaluate on the parent's request. However, I think they would be on pretty shaky ground in your case since your child has a medically diagnosed, chronic, life-threatening health condition. Once they have been notified of that, they should be *offering* you an evaluation. Obviously, they haven't done that.
When you formally request the evaluation, explain in your letter that your child has a life-threatening allergy to peanuts and that this condition is recognized by OCR as a hidden disability. You should state that your child's major life-activities of breathing, normal cardiovascular function and caring for himself are substantially limited by his allergy. You could include supporting documentation with the letter, but I don't think that is necessary. You will be able to explain your reasoning and back it up with evidence (doctor's letter, OCR documentation, etc.) at the evaluation. Your letter does not need to contain all the details of your argument; just that you are formally requesting an evaluation and the grounds on which you are making that request. The law states:
"(a) Preplacement evaluation. A recipient that operates a public elementary or secondary education program or activity shall conduct an evaluation in accordance with the requirements of paragraph (b) of this section of any person who, because of handicap, needs or is believed to need special education or related services before taking any action with respect to the initial placement of the person in regular or special education and any subsequent significant change in placement."
So you need to state the grounds on which you base your belief that your child is disabled and requires "related services".
Cathy
[This message has been edited by Momcat (edited February 24, 2006).]

Posted on: Fri, 02/24/2006 - 1:49pm
Ohio's picture
Offline
Joined: 05/23/2005 - 09:00

#1
Take a look at this document:
The Civil Rights of Students with Hidden Disabilities Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
[url="http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/hq5269.html"]http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/hq5269.html[/url]
It has a lot of helpful information, and specifically states you have a right to request a 504 eligibility meeting, but there is no guarantee the school will honor that request. But the school is asking for (at least) a 504 violation if they refuse a 504 evaluation. This can also prompt a hearing or lawsuit. This is supported by OCR cases referenced below.
Source: [url="http://www.504idea.org/evaluation.html"]http://www.504idea.org/evaluation.html[/url]
Question 9: If a parent referral for 504 evaluation is refused by the public school, does the parent have any recourse?
Yes. The refusal to evaluate triggers the parents' rights to (1) request a 504 hearing before an independent hearing officer or (2) file suit in state or federal court or (3) file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights.
While there is no right to an evaluation on parent demand under Section 504, Letter to Mentink, 19 IDELR 1127 (OCR 1993), districts should carefully consider the refusal to provide an evaluation. If the district believes that the child is not eligible (for example, the child is already receiving educational benefit) providing a 504 evaluation and making that determination properly through a 504 Committee makes the decision virtually bulletproof against an OCR complaint. Remember, since OCR looks at procedural compliance issues, as long as the 504 Committee was properly constituted and asked the right questions based on proper evaluation data, the Committee's decision that the child was not eligible will not be disturbed by OCR. The parent's disagreement with the eligibility decision will not be reviewed by OCR, because that type of complaint is the territory of the independent hearing officer. See for example, Virginia Beach City (VA) Public Schools, 26 IDELR 27 (OCR 1996); Temple (TX) ISD, 25 IDELR 252 (OCR 1996).

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